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Winterbourne View highlights dangers of an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ culture

The Winterbourne View scandal highlights the importance of funding locally based support for people with challenging behaviour and learning disabilities rather than sending them to far off institutions, BASW warned.

Commenting on today’s sentencing of six care workers who admitted abuse and neglect of patients at the Bristol Hospital, professional officer Joe Godden said:

“Social workers have informed BASW that often there are inadequate locally based support systems with the specialist skills to work with people who have challenging behaviour.

“The lack of facilities contributes to the challenging behaviour, which then leads to the vicious circle of the person being sent miles away from home, which then contributes to more challenging behaviour in turn.

“It is an urgent necessity that health and social services work together to develop local services, where specialist support can be made available to support people with challenging behaviour.”

Mr Godden added that social services should be involved where placements are being made outside the community in order to prevent abuses.

“Preventing abuse in institutions far away from home is extremely difficult. Families, social workers, health professionals will have very limited access to monitor such services.

“Most of the people placed in Winterbourne View were placed there by health services. BASW are demanding that any placements outside an area must be jointly assessed and supported by social service departments.”

Sentencing the care home workers, Judge Neil Ford QC said there was a “culture of cruelty” at the care home with no attempt to provide a caring environment.

BASW supports calls by MENCAP and serious case review author Margaret Flynn for an end to people with challenging behaviour or learning disabilities being sent to large assessment and treatment units.

They warned people in such institutions can be “isolated and at risk of abuse” and should instead be able to access the support and services they need in their local area.

Mr Godden also called for tighter regulation of people who worked with vulnerable people.

“It is an indictment of our values as a society that the most vulnerable people are “looked after” by largely unqualified staff, paid little more than the minimum wage, with often little or no training and who are not registered with a regulator.

“The Government proposals in the Care and Support Bill are that such staff should follow a code of conduct. That is totally inadequate. Other countries in Europe take the care of this most vulnerable group much more seriously.”